Friday, March 09, 2018

Hope, memories and distraction

The last two days have been the hardest days of my life. Looking back, I can recall the worst of times: getting mugged was pretty bad. Getting hit by a van wasn’t great, either; but Ebony’s Cancer diagnosis was the worst.

I have been comparatively fortunate otherwise. Lucky? Blessed? Privileged? Honored? All of those things at times. What’s a typical bad day for me? The escalator is out at ABC and I have to take the stairs to the mezzanine to get the elevator to the newsroom? “What the Fuck, man? This place sucks!”

(I am joking, of course, Ha,ha. Kidding! I have to be careful of what I say: I don’t want to piss of the wrong people or in seven days Kerry Washington will crawl out of my television and kill me.)

Ebony has surgery today. The doctors are implanting a valve called a Gastric Tube into her stomach. As she can no longer swallow properly, and a Nasogastric feeding tube, inserted through her nose, is only meant to be temporary — and causes her pain and discomfort. — the doctors say that this is the best way for her to ingest nutrients. The device can be removed should she regain her ability to swallow.

Last night one of the members of the surgical team stopped by to explain the procedure to me and have me sign the release form.

The process of placing a Gastric tube involves inserting a camera with a light at the tip through the mouth into the stomach. They use this device to press the stomach against the abdomen and make the incision where they will insert the valve and after doing so, sew her up.

The valve is secured internally and externally, essentially, by washers. During the healing process, collagen forms naturally, adhering the stomach against the interior of the abdomen.

Because Ebony has been on steroids for over six months, her procedure will be different. Steroids inhibit collagen from forming so they will need to attach Ebony’s stomach to the inside of her abdomen with stitches in order to prevent Septic Peritonitis, which would occur if the valve separates from the stomach and the contents leak into her body, causing infection and abdominal pain.

The recovery from surgery will take two to four weeks depending how quickly the surgical wound heals. Because she has been having her Cancer treated with infusions of Avastin, they have to watch her closely as one of the side-effects of Avastin is that it inhibits wounds from healing.

When she pulls through this, and I am confident that she will, what we must face is that she may not be able to swallow conventional food again. Ebony was hardly a “foodie,” but she loves great wine and chocolate; cheese, olives and cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone. She loves sushi, seafood, particularly shellfish; pizza amd pasta and more than anything, potato chips. She also loves burgers from White Castle (“It’s a Queens thing,” she would tell me.), McDonald’s French fries and Popeye’s fried chicken (spicy), which she introduced me to. Over the ten years we have been together, I unknowingly turned her into a Chowdah Monstah, and watched her indulge in clam chowder everywhere we went in Newport and Eastern New England. She loves the chowder at The Black Pearl but was also quite fond of the chowder at Flo’s. Oh, and she loves chocolate. Did I mention?

Unfortunately, those days are over, at least for now.

Wednesday afternoon, when all this was laid out by her primary MD, we were also presented with the grim question of whether we wanted to sign a DNR/DNI. This is a form which stipulates that in the event of arrest, the doctors will not resuscitate and neither will they intubate or hook her up to a ventilator.

As her Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney, her fiancĂ©, lover and partner of 10 years, I went to honor Ebony’s wishes. I know what she wants, what she has expressed to me in thee past before this happened, but I am horribly conflicted. Ebony is the Love of my Life and I would trade places with her in a second. She doesn’t deserve what has befallen her and it is agonizing to watch. I have called out of work the past two nights because I am overwhelmed and a crying mess.

I know where this is going. At this point, we all do. How long it takes and how we get there is how we honor Ebony and celebrate her life.

For six months I have lived on hope, memories and distraction. Yesterday, they moved Ebony from a quad to a double and she got a window with a view of the front entrance of the hospital. I think it’s important, to keep looking out, looking forward.

I just hope I can face whatever lies ahead with courage, for Ebony.